Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Thought du jour - 14 September 2011

"I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence." - Eugene V. Debs

I consider Debs to be one of the greatest Americans of the 20th century.

Meanwhile, here is today's piece of historical trivia, that may interest only me. In 1912, Debs' running mate on the Socialist ticket for President was Emil Seidel, who had been Mayor of Milwaukee from 1910 to 1912, as a socialist (until the Republicans and Democrats combined forces to defeat him).

The trivia bit is that one of his secretaries while Mayor was a young Carl Sandburg, one of my two or three favourite poets of the 20th century. As for Seidel, a largely forgotten figure of American history, he was the first Socialist mayor of a major city in the United States, and during his administration the first public works department was established, the first fire and police commission was organized, a city park system came into being, and he cleaned the town up with strict regulation of bars and the closing of brothels and sporting parlors. He was doing a fine job... right up until the Democratic / Republican fusion put an end to it, at least for a few years. Milwaukee went on to elect socialist mayors from 1916 until 1940, and again from 1948 to 1960, with progressive and responsible administrations that served the people of Milwaukee well.

Something to think about the next time some Republican (or Democrat) tries to convince you that to vote for a socialist would be akin to voting for Satan.

Paul Kimball

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